Visit and enjoy New York City like a local: In this post, our North America Green City Trips expert Misty shares some insider tips on how to make the best of your city trip to New York City:
Learn about when to visit, where to eat and how locals spend a nice Sunday. And just in case you feel like escaping this massive city for a day, we’ve also asked Misty for her favorite day trip. Enjoy!
Misty, what makes New York City such a popular city destination?
It’s a city of dreams. When you are there, you feel like anything is possible. You’re surrounded by possibility and talent on every corner and face to face with humanity on a daily basis. You never leave NYC without a great story and a few new friends. It’s also a city of constant change, which invites you to see how flexible you are.
Misty, which time of the year do you enjoy the city most?
The seasons are part of what makes NYC such a great place to live. You really get to experience all of them fully and each one has something to celebrate. The only downside is that Winter hangs around a little too long.
My favorite time to be in NYC is that sweet spot between the end of April and beginning of June. The air is crisp, the flowers are blooming and the smiles are a little bigger.
You can see all of the hibernators coming out of their 600 square ft. apartments. The attitude that comes with Spring is magical. Everyone is glad to be out and about. Bikini clad girls and frisbee throwing guys fill Sheep’s Meadow on the first “warm” day (even if it’s 60°!).
Fashion is also at its peak in Spring. The coffee tastes smoother. The youth are more vibrant. The biggest draw, though, is all of the free music and outdoor events that start happening! You really shouldn’t be indoors too much during the Spring and most of Summer.
Which insider tips do you give your best friends while visiting NYC?
Don’t try to do it all in a few days. You really need at least a week to see and do NYC. You may discover an activity or place that takes you off your charted course. Also, everything takes a while to engage in. Seeing the Statue of Liberty, for example, is really a half day experience.
On that note, try and avoid the tourist traps. The World Trade Center and Times Square, for example, are great to experience, but you’ll likely be stressed out by how many people are trying to enjoy it with you. There are so many other parts of the city that are super interesting and offer a deeper experience.
The West and East Village both have a lot of history and charm. Harlem, Queens and Brooklyn are amazing! Go beyond the edges and explore the outer boroughs.
Take a walking tour! I’m a huge fan of these in every city. I’ve worked as a tour guide in NYC and elsewhere, and you really do get an insider’s view.
NYC has a tour for EVERYTHING! You want to do a Sex and the City tour….done. Brooklyn Pizza tour….done. Shopping tour….double done. If there isn’t a tour operator for what you want to do, I guarantee if you go onto Viator.com and post what you are looking for, someone will step up to do the job.
Your favorite restaurants in New York City?
Oh, the food. You could eat your way through this city for the rest of your life and never get to all of the restaurants. My top Vegan/ Vegetarian place is Candle Cafe on the Upper East and West side. The BBQ Jackfruit tacos….mmmmmm
For the meat eaters I recommend ABC Kitchen. Fair warning, you will have to make reservations far in advance. This concept restaurant by chef Jean-Georges focuses on sustainably sourced and local foods with a global flare. If you can score reservations, not only will you be eating some of the most heavenly food ever, you will also be eating alongside celebrities who favor this chic restaurant.
My last pick is Bell, Book and Candle. This is the place for cocktails and food grown from an aeroponic rooftop garden. The ‘Hashtag Hashtag cocktail’ beautifully blends bourbon, fig, maple, orange and lemon.
Your favorite place in New York City?
Washington Square Park. It’s where I go to read a book on a nice day, have a meeting with a friend or simply people watch. It’s also amazing for buskers and artists of all kinds. I’ve seen a man play a piano in the park with hundreds of people surrounding him a woman dance in the fountain to classical music, and a band dressed in roaring 20’s costumes singing and playing music.
Then there was my favorite: the annual pillow fight that happens in the park. It’s one of those places you go to experience magic!
How do locals spend a nice Sunday afternoon in NYC?
BRUNCH. And the park if it’s nice, but most of the year we brunch.
Your favorite day trip from NYC?
Garrison and Cold Spring NYC are about an hour from Grand Central via Metro North. Situated in the Hudson Valley, it’s a quaint little place to escape and enjoy the nature. The Gunks, a great hiking and rock climbing destination, aren’t too far either.
What do travelers need to know about New York before visiting?
1. Watch where you are walking
New Yorkers are some of the friendliest people, contrary to popular belief. I’ve seen people jump on the train tracks to save another person. One thing that peeves them is someone stopping in the middle of the sidewalk, or slowing the flow of traffic.
New Yorkers often lead busy lives and value their time. It’s hard enough schlepping stuff all day long and running to catch trains. We want you to enjoy the city, and to please be mindful of personal space.
2. NY’ers actually like giving directions and telling you things to do in the area. Unless we look like we are in a hurry, we often relish in stopping and helping people out. It’s fun for locals to feel like they have the inside scoop, and many of us have been in your shoes before.
3. Houston street is pronounced House-ton street. not Houston like the city.
4. When you are on the subway, again, mind personal space. There is a lot of upset about a trend called man-spreading. Don’t do it. Also, please let people off before you get on. It’s common courtesy and will help everyone get where they need to go faster.
5. Go to the TKTS booth in Brooklyn or the South Street Seaport if you want to buy discount Broadway tickets. There is a booth in Times Square, but it takes a lot longer to get through. Some shows also do a lottery for discount tickets, but you have to do research on individual shows to find out which ones do and don’t.
NYC is a beautiful and liberating place for tourist to experience. You will leave learning something new about yourself and the world around you.
Contact Misty at Green Suitcase Travel for your custom-tailored, eco-friendly city trip to New York or any other city in the US.
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